Last month I signed up as a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). One of the reasons I joined is they allow you to use their emblem on your website. They also don’t let any random person file a complaint against you without documentation of a transaction, and without giving the store owner a chance to refute the complaint.
Why do they do this? Because they do not want to hurt a persons business. A lot of investment goes into a business. Especially a true solid physical store front. You have contracts that last for years with other vendors. Security systems, utilities, advertising, product, etc. If your business goes under, a lot of other businesses are affected. In addition, if someone publishes false negative information about you for the public to read, they could be sued for defamation of character.
Why would I make these comparisons? In May 2008 Ebay plans to let anyone post negative information about my Ebay business without any regard to how it may affect that business. As far as I know, I will be given no chance to refute any negative information that a buyer leaves me, and that negative information will remain there for anyone to read for 12 months.
This would be comparable to someone picketing outside my physical store for 12 months without my being able to do anything about it. Is this fair? Ebay thinks so. They think that if a buyer has a negative experience in any way in my “Ebay” store, that the buyer has the right to harm my business for 12 months without giving me any hearing or even reviewing the facts. They feel it is the same thing as the bad word of mouth a physical store owner receives from a buyer who has poor buying experience.
The difference is that a buyer who has a bad experience in a physical store isn’t allowed to publish defamatory information about a store to a public forum without proof, or they are left open to a libel suit. The BBB knows this, and reviews all complaints. So welcome to Ebays new neighborhood where anyone is allowed to post negative information about a business, without allowing a store owner any rights. Perhaps Ebay management feels that an Ebay store owner has nothing invested in that Ebay store, or no obligations to other people with businesses?
All I know is that I hope I find more friends than foes in the “new” Ebay neighborhood starting May 2008.